Chinatown plans ahead for safety and sanitation sweep

Shelters are asking for packing supplies to help the homeless move

Homeless camps in Chinatown

SALINAS, Calif. - Sweeping the rug out, from under their feet.  On Monday, Chinatown's homeless population is preparing for yet another city-sanctioned sweep.  This time around, Salinas shelters are hoping the community will join them in rallying around those living on the streets, all to make sure they are not left with nothing.

Salinas shelters near Chinatown are planning to work with the homeless in an effort to put some order to the chaos of moving out.  People working at the shelters estimate there are about 100 people living in makeshift homes on the streets.  In anticipation of next Thursday's sweep, they're asking for all the typical tools needed to make a big move.

"I mean it's my life you know, what's left of it.  That's their stuff, that's their life, you know?  It's not right.  I mean they've had everything stripped already," said an anonymous Salinas homeless woman.

She said it's emotionally debilitating to go through the police department's quarterly safety and sanitation sweep in Chinatown.  Those who work at the local shelters say there's never an easy way to go about doing it.

"Moving is just very traumatic and it's very overwhelming and nobody really wants to take that on in their lives right now.  So they wait until they absolutely have to move," said Jill Allen, executive director for Dorothy's Place.

This year, a group of Chinatown residents are working with Dorothy's Place to prepare ahead of time.  They're asking for donations of boxes, bungee cords and packing tape with the idea that the basic supplies will help make streets cleaner when the city comes to visit next week.

People who live down here say having a few boxes will help them preserve what little they have left.  Police said they understand some people have nowhere else to go.

"Our goal is not to throw people out on the street, take whatever shelter they have created for themselves away from them.  That's not what we're trying to do.  What we're trying to do is ensure that in a bad situation, they're living as safely and cleanly as they can," said Salinas Police Chief Kelly McMillin.

If you'd like to help Chinatown with its plan to start clean up early, packing donations can be dropped off at Dorothy's Place this week.

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